Romans 5:12

12 Wherefore*, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that[a] all have sinned:

Romans 5:12 Meaning and Commentary

Romans 5:12

Wherefore as by one man sin entered into the world
The design of these words, and of the following, is to show how men came to be in the condition before described, as "ungodly", ( Romans 5:6 ) , "sinners", ( Romans 5:8 ) , and "enemies", ( Romans 5:10 ) ; and to express the love of Christ in the redemption of them; and the largeness of God's grace to all sorts of men: the connection of them is with ( Romans 5:11 ) , by which it appears that the saints have not only an expiation of sin by the blood of Christ, but a perfect righteousness, by which they are justified in the sight of God; and the manner how they came at it, or this becomes theirs, together with the necessity of their having such an one, are here declared: by the "one man" is meant Adam the first man, and parent of mankind, who is mentioned by name in ( Romans 5:14 ) ; sin which came by him designs a single sin, and not many, even the first sin of Adam, which goes by different names, as "sin" here, "transgression", ( Romans 5:14 ) , the "offence" or "fall", ( Romans 5:15 Romans 5:17 Romans 5:18 ) , "disobedience", ( Romans 5:19 ) , and whatever was the first step or motive to it, which led to it, whether pride, unbelief, or concupiscence, it was finished by eating the forbidden fruit; and is called sin emphatically, because it contained all sin in it, was attended with aggravating circumstances, and followed with dismal consequences. Hence may be learnt the origin of moral evil among men, which comes not from God, but man; of this it is said, that it "entered into the world"; not the world above, there sin entered by the devil; but the world below, and it first entered into paradise, and then passed through the whole world; it entered into men by the snares of Satan, and by him it enters into all the inhabitants of the world; into all men that descend from him by ordinary generation, and that so powerfully that there is no stopping of it. It has entered by him, not by imitation, for it has entered into such as never sinned after the similitude of his transgression, infants, or otherwise death could not have entered into them, and into such who never heard of it, as the Heathens; besides, sin entered as death did, which was not by imitation but imputation, for all men are reckoned dead in Adam, being accounted sinners in him; add to this, that in the same way Christ's righteousness comes upon us, which is by imputation, Adam's sin enters into us, or becomes ours; upon which death follows,

and death by sin;
that is, death has entered into the world of men by sin, by the first sin of the first man; not only corporeal death, but a spiritual or moral one, man, in consequence of this, becoming "dead in sin", deprived of righteousness, and averse, and impotent to all that is good; and also an eternal death, to which he is liable; for "the wages of sin is death", ( Romans 6:23 ) ; even eternal death: all mankind are in a legal sense dead, the sentence of condemnation and death immediately passed on Adam as soon as he had sinned, and upon all his posterity;

and so death passed upon all men;
the reason of which was,

for that,
or because "in him"

all have sinned:
all men were naturally and seminally in him; as he was the common parent of mankind, he had all human nature in him, and was also the covenant head, and representative of all his posterity; so that they were in him both naturally and federally, and so "sinned in him"; and fell with him by his first transgression into condemnation and death. The ancient Jews, and some of the modern ones, have said many things agreeably to the apostle's doctrine of original sin; they own the imputation of the guilt of Adam's sin to his posterity to condemnation and death;

``through the sin of the first man (say they F7) (tm hta) , "thou art dead"; for he brought death into the world:''

nothing is more frequently said by them than that Adam and Eve, through the evil counsel of the serpent, (amle lklw Nwl atwm wmyrg) , "were the cause of death to themselves and to all the world" F8; and that through the eating of the fruit of the tree, (aera yryyd lk) (atwm wbyyxta) , "all the inhabitants of the earth became guilty of death" F9: and that this was not merely a corporeal death, they gather from the doubling of the word in the threatening, "in dying thou shalt die", ( Genesis 2:17 ) (margin);

``this doubled death, say they F11, without doubt is the punishment of their body by itself, (hmue ynpb vpnlw) , and also of the "soul by itself".''

They speak of some righteous persons who died, not for any sin of their own, but purely on the account of Adam's sin; as Benjamin the son of Jacob, Amram the father of Moses, and Jesse the father of David, and Chileab the son of David F12, to these may be added Joshua the son of Nun, and Zelophehad and Levi: the corruption and pollution of human nature through the sin of Adam is clearly expressed by them;

``when Adam sinned, (say they F13,) he "drew upon him a defiled power, (amle ynb lklw hyl byaow) , "and defiled himself and all the people of the "world".''

Again F14,

``this vitiosity which comes from the sin and infection of our first parents, has invaded both faculties of the rational soul, the understanding by which we apprehend, and the will by which we desire.''

This corruption of nature they call (erh ruy) , "the evil imagination", which, they say F15, is planted in a man's heart at the time of his birth; and others say F16 that it is in him before he is born: hence Philo the Jew says F17, that (sumfuev to amartanon esti) , "to sin is connatural", to every man that is born, even though a good man; and talks F18 of (suggeghnhnon koukon) , "evil that is born with us", and of

F19 (suggeneiv khrev) , "spots that are of necessity born with" every mortal man. And so his countrymen F20 often speak of it as natural and inseparable to men; yea, they represent Adam as the root and head of mankind, in whom the whole world and all human nature sinned: descanting on those words, "as one that lieth upon the top of a mast", ( Proverbs 23:34 ) ;

``this (say they F21) is the first man who was (Mda ynb lkl) (var) , "an head to all the children of men": for by means of wine death was inflicted on him, and he was the cause of bringing the sorrows of death into the world.''

And in another place, speaking of Adam, they say F23, that

``he was (Mlwe lv hayrb rqye) , "the root of the creation", or "of the men of the world"; and death was inflicted upon him and on his seed, because he sinned one sin in eating of the tree.''

And it is observed,

``that (heydyh ah) , the "He" demonstrative is not prefixed in Scripture to proper names, which yet is to the word "Adam"; the reason is, (say they F24,) because in Adam all his posterity are pointed at, and the whole human species designed.''

Again, they observe F25, that

``the end of man is to die, of which this is the reason, because (Mdah Nym) , "mankind" has sinned; that is, the nature of which he is composed, or in other words, Adam and Eve have sinned.''

Once more F26

``when he (Adam) sinned, (ajx wlk Mlweh lk) , "all the whole world sinned", and his sin we bear;''

and F1 that

``the whole congregation of Israel have need of atonement for the sin of the first Adam, for he was (hdeh lkk bwvx) , reckoned as the whole congregation;''

which exactly tallies with the apostle's assertion in this text.

(When this commentary was written, it was generally accepted that all the fossils in the rocks were laid down by Noah's world wide flood and that the universe was about 6000 years old. Since that time, science has postualated that life evolved over billions of years and that the fossils are a result of this evolutionary process. If you accept the Bible as your authority you cannot accept the theory of evolution in any form. Firstly, the biblical chronology restricts the age of the universe to about 6000 years. Secondly, in order to get fossils, animals must die. This verse tells us that sin, not evolution, is the cause of death. Death and suffering did not exist until after Adam sinned. Hence before Adam sinned, no animal died and it would be impossible for any fossils to form. Before the fall, all animals ate plants, not other animals ( Genesis 1:30 ) . Paul tells us in ( Romans 8:20 Romans 8:21 ) that Adam's sin subjected all of creation to the curse, not just mankind. (See Gill on Romans 6:23). (See Gill on Exodus 20:11). Editor)

F7 Debarim Rabba, sect. 9. fol. 244. 2.
F8 Zohar in Gen. fol. 27. 1, 2, 3, 4. & 36. 3. 4. & 37. 2. & 46. 4. & 54. 3. & 67. 3. & 86. 1. & 98. 1. in Exod. fol. 106. 1. & 127. 2. in Lev. fol. 46. 2. 3. Bemidbar Rabba, fol. 225. 3. Caphtor, fol. 37. 2.
F9 Targum in Ruth iv. 22. & in Eccles. vii. 29.
F11 R. Joseph Albo in Sepher lkkarim, l. 4. c. 41.
F12 T. Bab. Sabbat, fol. 55. 2. Bava Bathra, fol. 17. 1. Zohar in Gen. fol. 36. 4. & Imre Binah in ib. & 44. 4. & lmre Binah in ib. & Numb. fol. 83. 2.
F13 Zohar in Gen. fol. 37. 1.
F14 Menasseh ben Israel Praefat. ad lib. de Fragilitate Humana.
F15 Aben Ezra in Psal. li. 5. Abraham Seba in Tzeror Hammor, fol. 14, 3. 4.
F16 T. Bab. Sanhedrin, fol. 91. 2. Bereshit Rabba, fol. 30. 1.
F17 De Vita Mosis, p. 675.
F18 De Praemiis, p. 920.
F19 De Nomin. Mutat. p. 1051.
F20 Kimchi in Psal. li. 5. Menah ben Israel de Fragilitate, par. 1. p. 2.
F21 Bemidhar Rabba, fol. 198. 3.
F23 Caphtor, fol. 102. 1.
F24 Menasseh ben Israel de cermino Vitae, c. 3. sect. 8. p. 198.
F25 En Jaacob, par. 1. fol. 19. 4.
F26 Zohar in Lev fol. 46. 2. R. Menachem Rakanati apud Voisin. Obs. in Pugionem Fidei, p. 590.
F1 Zohar in Gen. fol. 76. 3. & 36. 3.

Romans 5:12 In-Context

10 For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.
11 And not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement.
12 Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:
13 (For until the law sin was in the world: but sin is not imputed when there is no law.
14 Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam's transgression, who is the figure of him that was to come.

Footnotes 1

The King James Version is in the public domain.